‘The Pioneer Woman’ Ree Drummond’s Macaroni Salad Recipe Has Some Surprising Ingredients That Make It the ‘Best Ever’

Ree Drummond admits she’s pretty picky about her macaroni salad recipe. The addition of flavorful ingredients in the classic summer side dish makes it anything but boring though. Find out how The Pioneer Woman star makes her “favorite macaroni salad in the universe.”

'The Pioneer Woman' Ree Drummond poses during a cooking segment on the Today show in 2019.
‘The Pioneer Woman’ Ree Drummond | Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Ree Drummond loves macaroni salad but says she’s ‘picky’ about it

Drummond shared her recipe with her Facebook fans, admitting, “I am picky about macaroni salad.” The recipe for Drummond’s “best macaroni salad ever” gives a bit more perspective about why she needed to get the recipe just right to suit her tastes.

She explained, “I love, love, love, adore, and love macaroni salad. I’m also picky, picky, picky, particular, and picky about macaroni salad.”

“No joke. Macaroni salad is a religion to me,” Drummond added. “I have issues, is what I’m saying.”

Drummond then laid out her likes and dislikes when it comes to the picnic and barbecue staple.

Here’s what I don’t like: Macaroni salad that’s gloopy.
Here’s what I do like: Macaroni salad that’s creamy but still light.
Here’s what I don’t like: Macaroni salad that’s overly vinegary.
Here’s what I do like: Macaroni salad with a sweet/tangy/spicy kick.
Here’s what I don’t like: Macaroni salad that’s mostly macaroni.
Here’s what I do like: Macaroni salad with a confetti of wonderfulness coloring the whole mix with flavor, spice, and texture.

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How to make Ree Drummond’s macaroni salad recipe

There are many variations on macaroni salad but Drummond includes some surprising ingredients that really amp up the flavor. She adds mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, milk, spicy/sweet pickles, pickle juice, black olives, roasted red peppers, and green onions to her macaroni salad.

The Pioneer Woman star begins by cooking the macaroni according to the package’s directions, then drains it and rinses the pasta with cold water. Drummond chops canned olives, green onions, roasted red peppers (or pimentos), and pickles.

Drummond explains that pickles are an important ingredient for the macaroni salad. “They’re pretty sweet, but also very spicy,” she notes. “You need both for macaroni salad. Any sweet/spicy pickles will do!”

For the dressing, Drummond mixes together mayonnaise, red wine vinegar to give it a “slight bite,” sugar, and a splash of milk to thin out the dressing so it’s pourable. She adds salt and pepper to season the dressing and a “splash” of pickle juice. The pickle juice, she notes, “adds a little more sweetness, a little more bite, and — if the pickles are nice and spicy — a little kick.”

‘The Pioneer Woman’ macaroni salad recipe is a great make-ahead side dish

To assemble the salad, Drummond pours ¾ of the dressing over the cooled pasta, mixing it together. If the dressing seems thin, she said it thickens when the salad is refrigerated.

She adds the chopped olives, green onions, pickles, and red peppers, stirring everything together. “The point here is not to have any macaroni that isn’t decorated with at least one of the ingredients,” Drummond notes. “If you see even one macaroni noodle without something on it, the entire macaroni salad will be totally ruined!”

Drummond recommends tasting the salad and adding more dressing, chopped ingredients, or “another good spash of pickle juice” at the end.

It’s a great make-ahead side dish, as salad chills for at least two hours before serving.

You can find the full recipe on The Pioneer Woman website.